Betta fish are not good swimmers. This makes them susceptible to fatigue and injuries from a strong current. The main source of current in a betta fish tank will come from the filter or aeration system. This makes it important to ensure that the flow from the output of the filter is ideal for your betta fish and will not cause them to get blown around the tank.
One of the most common reasons for a betta fish to hang around the bottom of the tank or hide is from a strong flow within the water column. We want our betta fish to be comfortable and happy in their environment, and this includes fixing any issues with the flow of the filter. This article will provide you with everything you need to know when it comes to choosing and ensuring the filter you are using is right for your betta fish.
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Do Betta Fish Require Filtration?
Yes! All fish require a source of filtration. Filters have many noticeable benefits, one of the main benefits is that filters help to provide a breeding ground for beneficial bacteria. The importance of this bacteria is simple, it turns toxic ammonia, which is a product of fish waste, into a much less toxic form known as nitrates. This all occurs from the nitrifying bacteria that inhabit the filter media. Filters continuously take in the tank water which will then go through the nitrified bacteria media and then produce fresh clean water back into the tank. Most filters will also catch and trap any loose dirt and debris found in the water column.
How to Determine if The Filter’s Current is Too Strong
Long-finned bettas can struggle to swim in even the gentlest current. This is because of the natural habitat they inhabit stagnant rice paddies, streams, and puddles. Although, many bettas in the aquarium trade have been so overbred for their looks that they have lost the natural finnage that would help them combat currents. Their long fins make it hard to swim and can become quite heavy. Therefore, you may see your betta fish resting on surfaces in the tank such as flat leaves or some even take to lying on the bottom of the tank.
This is not a concerning behavior and is quite common for many male bettas to take frequent rests. You can help the situation by providing them with large flat leaves near the surface of the tank or purchasing a betta hammock which is a fake leaf attached to a suction cup and can be placed on the glass of the tank.
There as many ways to determine if the current in the tank is too strong for your betta fish, but you should make sure it is not linked to an underlying illness.
- Fin nipping: This is typically a stress-induced behavior caused by a current that is too strong. The betta fish will start to chew away at its tail fin because the weight becomes too overbearing. The betta fish does this to make their tail fin more dynamic in the water. The shorter their fins are, the easier they will find it to swim. The only problem with this is that the open wounds in the tail are at risk of serious infections.
- Inactivity: A betta who is not enjoying the environment they are in will cease their usual activity. Bettas can be quite active fish, which makes it concerning to see them hanging listlessly in different areas of the tank. The betta fish gets tired of swimming against the current and may give up altogether.
- Poor stability: You may notice that your betta fish is getting tossed around the tank because of the strong current. They will swim uncontrollably, and their fins will get pushed against their body which will limit their mobility. They may also breathe fast because of exhaustion.
- Swimming head-up: The betta fish may begin to adapt to swimming in an unnatural position against the current of the filter.
- Hiding: Stressed bettas will hide more frequently. They will typically hide behind the filter where the current is the weakest. You may also notice that your betta will hide between plants or inside of hideouts.
How to Reduce Harsh Flow
Reducing the flow is the first step in controlling the strong current. Once you have determined that it is the filter causing your betta fish to behave abnormally, you have a few options to resolve this issue. You can either swap the current filter for a sponge or cartridge filter, or you can use different techniques to slow down to flow on the current filter.
If you are using a canister filter with media like floss, activated carbon, and other add-ins, then you should compact each layer so that the whole filter is layered with different types of filter media. Adding in extra filter wool and large carbon pieces will significantly reduce the flow. This may not help a great deal, but it can be an option until you can purchase a better filter.
Some filters will have a knob or switch to manually control the total output of the filter. You may have to fiddle with the filter to find out where it is placed and then move the control to the lowest flow option.
Ideal Filters for Betta Fish
Sponge filters are a good option for betta fish. They do not have a side flow and generally only produce bubbles from the top. Many sponge filters connect to an airline tube and an air pump. The pump will push air through the tube and into the sponge filter. The sponge filter will also produce a slight pull to catch any debris and loose particles in the water. Not only are sponge filters good for bettas due to their low current, but they also provide surface agitation from the bubbles which increase the amount of oxygen your betta will receive.
You might also be interested in: Can Betta Fish Live in a Bowl (Without a Filter or Heater)?
Betta fish can be delicate creatures, but as long as you provide them with the right conditions and requirements they are going to thrive. It is always important to ensure that the filter you choose is ideal for the type of betta fish you have. Female betta fish typically have better swimming abilities, whereas males do not.
We hope this article has helped you figure out the filtration method you use for your betta fish tank!
Related Read: 5 Best Filters for Betta Fish Aquariums
Featured Image Credit: Sandra Burm, Shutterstock